The kids and I made half our haul of strawberries into a tasty jam this afternoon. Rio and Serena were both great helpers, as was the morning preschool gang. They washed the berries, cut the tops off them with a safety knife, and put them into bowls for mashing. Rio even helped stir the sugar into the jam.
My two big discoveries for the day were that making strawberry jam is, wonderfully, one of those bits of domestic magic that is secretly much easier than it looks. We followed a simple recipe we grabbed from the internet, which was more formula than recipe: just match quantities of sugar and mushed up berries 1:1, add some lemon juice, heat it up, and put it in jars.
It sounds simple, and it is. Also forgiving. We made several mistakes along the way, and the jam still turned into jam. It did so in spite of our lack of canning equipment, our failure to own a candy thermometer, our messy hands and messier workspace. It turned into jam in spite of our using the food processor instead of the potato masher to mush the berries and our innovative “squish the big bits with your fingers” technique.
I confess, I was astonished. It wound being kind of runny, since we skipped the pectin, but it was delicious. Like eating the sun, if that wouldn’t be fatal.
Once we had conquered jam, we had a serious challenge to face: do we slather this stuff on the homemade sourdough boule Martin baked over the weekend, or the homemade banana-walnut-chocolate-chip bread he and the kids made?
Both, of course. And then we lick our fingers.